A pro-democracy protester wearing heat-proof gloves and carrying a traffic cone sprints from the crowd to put it out as a tear gas canister clatters on a road in Hong Kong.
Police have stepped up their use of the crowd control measure as two months of rallies in the global financial hub have become increasingly violent, peaking with 800 rounds fired on Monday in what protesters call a “tear gas buffet.”
Hardcore protesters respond with ever more creative techniques to neutralize the danger, harnessing everything from traffic cones to kitchenware.
Their arsenal involves several must-haves: heat-resistant gloves to pick up searingly warm canisters and respirators in Cantonese dubbed “pig snouts.”
Online forums host discussions on which 3 M respirator filter designs work best against tear gas and which local hardware stores still have the preferred models in inventory.
Protesters on the roads compare notes on their facilities and give advice. After police fired tear gas on Monday at protesters hurling bottles and bricks, one bystander gasped and rubbed his eyes, attracting the attention of a passing demonstrator who handed him a mask.
Demonstrators have created unique “units” in charge of tackling tear gas, which spring into action as shortly as a canister is fired.
Some wrap their arms and legs in a cling wrap to avoid the painful irritations of the skin that the gas and pepper spray can trigger and bring saline to rinse the eyes of anyone impacted.
Canisters are sometimes picked up and lobbied by police or immediately extinguished with water bottles. Some bring traffic cones that can be placed on top of canisters to contain the gas before demonstrators douse them with water.